Acoustic Guitar Pickup Installation : Olson Acoustic

On the workbench is a beautiful guitar. An Olson acoustic, from the renowned luthier James Olson. He makes guitars for James Taylor, David Crosby and many other top recording artists – more here…

This Olson is owned by Chris Difford.  It’s in the workshop for a new pickup system and it’s needed fairly urgently for an up and coming tour.

The old pickup is a passive system and an active pickup is needed to boost and enhance the beautiful acoustic quality of this guitar. The guitar was made in 2007 and in its short life span the technology of acoustic pickups has come on leaps and bounds.

The L.R.Baggs iMix is the preferred choice for this Olson. It will combine the warm, positive sounds on the undersaddle pickup with the natural and sumptuous tones of the soundboard mounted iBeam pickup.

Check out the iMix here…

Out with th old

The old pickup system is removed. It’s the early type of pickup that is combined and manufactured into the saddle. Once removed a new saddle substitute will need to be made.

Before removal, measurements are taken of the string and the saddle height. This is to ensure that the playing action is matched once the new saddle is made and installed.

The iBeam

The iBeam mounting fixture is assembled and fitted

The iBeam is mounted into position on the fixture. This device ensures that the iMix correctly lines up with the saddle

The mounting fixture is fed through the soundhole and the vertical posts are brought up through the outer bridge pin holes. This ensures the iBeam is sitting directly under the saddle.

The iBeam is positioned and the mounting fixture removed


The Element

The undersaddle element is fitted into place….

…and the stereo jack socket fitted


The Preamp

The iMix preamp, remote control soundhole controller and battery housing are installed

New Saddle Demands

A new saddle is made up from a bone blank to match the intonated contours of the old saddle…


…the bottom of the saddle is cut with a slight angle. The saddle is made so that it fits loosely into the saddle slot, this is to maximise the transferral of string vibration to the pickup element. Consequently there is a slight forward tilt to the saddle once strung-up. The angle cut to the bottom of the bone saddle will ensure that there is maximum contact between saddle and element.

Click image to enlarge

All internal wiring is tidied and secured to the guitars internal walls.

The guitar is strung-up and tested. The new pickup system sounds great and will enhance and complement the acoustic value of this beautiful guitar in any live performance or studio situation.

Cased up and ready for collection.

Chris is very happy with the new pickup. In a later message from him he remarks “Brilliant, thank you it sounds great”

More about Chris Difford


I make and repair guitars and other stringed instruments. I am based in London.

“Great! It’s good. It’s really good. Plays like a Martin guitar now. Thank you very much!”

~ Steve Earle

“Brilliant, thank you it sounds great

~ Chris Difford

“The guitars arrived at lunchtime thanks all safe & sound, and thrilled with the Guild!!!

Thank you so much… Tom ”

~ Tom Robinson

“The guitar plays amazin hard to believe its the same one! Thanks so much”

~ Seasick Steve

~ More  testimonials


Welcome to my website, a window on my workshop, a thriving industry of guitar repairs and customer commissions.

On this site you will be able to get advice and handy tips on guitar repairs and maintenance. You will be able to find out about me and my background in Musical Instrument Technology (M.I.T.)

You can also meet me and take a virtual tour (updating, back soon) of the workshop described by visiting guitarists as an Aladdin’s Cave of guitar player’s delights.

On this site you will also be able to view a variety of commissioned Acoustic, Electric and Bass guitars as well as a variety of Mandolins and Mandolas.

Guitar Repair

For help, advice, information and handy tips visit my Tech Tips pages. Simply navigate from the left hand side of the page.

Member of the Institute of Musical Instrument Technology


Member of the National Association of Musical Instrument Repairers


Thank you for your visit

Your visit to this site is valued and much appreciated so please feel free to leave feedback or comment where appropriate. I will do my best to respond as soon as is practical.

The site is perpetually upgraded and developed with useful information to benefit the guitarist. Visit my blog pages for interesting repair case studies, or better still click on the RSS button for automatic updates.

Twitter & Twitpic Updates

I work on very interesting and notable instruments on a daily basis. Follow me on Twitter and receive regular photographs. Sneak a peek at what’s on the workbench. Click the link and join the debate or just receive an update. Twitter

Posted in . Leave a Comment »